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$500 million commitment from Jennifer and Dan Gilbert benefitting Detroit
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$500 million commitment from Jennifer and Dan Gilbert benefitting Detroit

Dan Gilbert, the Quicken Loans founder and his wife Jennifer have spent more than a decade putting billions into downtown Detroit. In recent months they are considerably broadening their scope.

The Gilbert Family Foundation and the Rocket Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage Company, announced a transformational $500 million investment in Metro Detroit, to be spent over the next 10 years.

Their $500 million pledge includes $350 million from the family’s largesse and $150 million from their RCF.

In more recent days they also launched Venture 313, a three-year, $10 million commitment that will help fulfill Detroit’s entrepreneurial potential and provide Detroit-based founders with meaningful opportunities to participate in the innovation economy.

The commitment includes a mixture of direct investment into startups, a web-based platform that provides guidance for entrepreneurs at each step of their journey, innovative programming and more.

The $10 million will be directed to partner organizations that will work with the Gilbert Family Foundation to invest directly in small business owners and develop programming to further the goals of Venture 313. In addition to increasing access to direct capital, Venture 313 seeks to simplify the entrepreneurial ecosystem by connecting multiple partners through one common platform.

Founding partners for Venture 313 include Invest Detroit, TechTown Detroit and the Detroit Development Fund.

“Venture 313 is a year-round, catalytic initiative that will provide Detroit-based entrepreneurs with access to capital, mentorship and other support they need to build their business and achieve greater economic mobility for themselves and their community,” said Jennifer Gilbert, cofounder of the Gilbert Family Foundation. “In the largest majority-Black city in the country, we are excited to work alongside such dedicated partners to help bridge the venture capital gap that sees only one percent of funds go to Black founders.”

Through partners, Venture 313 will invest $500 – $250,000 into Detroit businesses through a mixture of grant funding and equity-like investments, depending on the size, situation and need of each business.

Invest Detroit, a Community Developmental Financial Institution (CDFI), mission-driven lender and investor that supports businesses in Detroit, will source venture-ready or high-growth focused startups looking to scale. Selected businesses will receive equity-like investments between $25,000 – $250,000. The Invest Detroit staff will also provide coaching and other programming to help entrepreneurs achieve long-term success.

“ID Ventures is pleased to be a partner in Venture 313,” says Martin Dober, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of ID Ventures, the venture capital team of Invest Detroit. “ID Ventures is committed to removing barriers and helping Detroiters scale their great ideas into venture-backed companies, and appreciates the Gilbert Family Foundation’s support of inclusive entrepreneurship in Detroit.”

TechTown Detroit, a nonprofit that provides programs, education and resources for early- to growth-stage small businesses and tech entrepreneurs, will invest in smaller businesses who are primarily looking to evolve from ideation to the creation of a minimum viable product (MVP). TechTown will provide grants ranging from $500 – $25,000, as well as ongoing support and coaching as entrepreneurs look to sustain their presence in the marketplace.

“It is critical that we empower founders with the resources they need to turn a passion into a product, and continue to invest in their entrepreneurial journey,” said Ned Staebler, vice president for economic development at Wayne State University and president and CEO of TechTown Detroit. “The only way to achieve real and sustainable economic development is by investing on Main Street, and we are excited to join the Gilbert Family Foundation and Venture 313 to support the next generation of Detroit startups.”

The Detroit Development Fund provides loans and technical assistance to small business owners who cannot get all the capital they need from traditional financing sources. Entrepreneurs who are piloting new models, looking to penetrate industries in which Detroiters and minority founders are underrepresented, or may not otherwise fit the mold for traditional venture capital will receive support from the Detroit Development Fund in the form of working capital, lines of credit and other loans from $25,000 – $250,000.

“As a lender, we look at every aspect of a business when analyzing their potential, but often prioritize future growth over finances and big ideas over balance sheets,” said Ray Waters, President of the Detroit Development Fund. “We are excited to be a founding partner of Venture 313 and collaborate with organizations like the Gilbert Family Foundation who, like us, understand that dreams are worth investing in.”

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